Innerleithen-based English teacher Claire McFall has made a capital impression as she continues her alternative career as an author.
Claire was awarded a triple-book deal last year, with first release Ferryman in March proving a hit amongst teenage readers and earning her a Scottish Children’s Book Award (SCBA) nomination.
And last Sunday she spoke at the Edinburgh Book Festival to an audience keen to hear about how she managed to add ‘published author’ to her CV.
Claire said: “I talked about the book and its themes and how to get published.
“It is something I get asked a lot by pupils while teaching at Peebles High and is something young writers are always looking for information on.”
Claire’s writing career started from the unlikely source of a mundane one-hour commute to work at Lesmahagow High School when she would come up with stories.
Having put together 10 different tales to consider, she was awarded a deal with Templar Publishing in April 2012.
And, so far, the company’s faith has been well founded, with the success of Ferryman – a mythological story based on a train crash and a meeting between a teenage boy and girl on a remote hillside.
Along with positive reviews by members of the public and the media, such as The Guardian calling it a “touching, often funny and sometimes harrowing first novel”, she was picked on the shortlist in the SCBA’s 12-to-16-year old category in June.
Claire said: “It is brilliant to be shortlisted.
“It gets me into libraries and schools and gives the book more exposure.”
Her next book Bombmaker, dealing with terrorism and seperatism, is due out a few months before the independence referendum next year, while she is currently working on the third and final book of her deal.
Claire added: “I have written one draft, but it may be that my publisher wants me to write a sequel to Bombmaker. If that is the case, I have a bit of work to do.
“If she goes with my finished work, the story will be a physiological thriller based in Dumfries and Galloway.
“It revolves around a camping trip to Stranraer, which is where I went for a school trip when I was a pupil.
“I hope my pupils think it is cool that I am a published author. Quite a few of them have bought and read the book and been very positive about it.
“But that may be just because I mark their homework.”
To register to vote in the Scottish Children’s Book Awards, visit www.scottishbooktrust.com